PhD student position on "Development of a new strategy to improve dehorning wound healing and welfare in dairy calves"
Applications are invited for a prestigious three year fully funded PhD studentship, commencing in January 2023. Dehorning is a very commonly practiced procedure in dairy calves to facilitate animal management. The procedure is painful for the calves and requires the use of local analgesics. However, the effects of these analgesics are short lived, thus compromising animal welfare. There appears to be very little published research regarding dehorning wound healing treatments in calves. The healing process is dependent on many factors (for ecample, age of the animal, dehorning method) and can take several weeks during which time the wounds can become infected. With the increasing social concern and awareness for animal welfare, dehorning of dairy calves has received increasing attention from the public and the dairy industry. Therefore, new strategies need to be developed to address pain mitigation, wound healing and infection control in these animals. Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) is a novel, painless, antibiotic-free, non-thermal technology. CAP is produced by excitation of gas molecules using electrical discharges. Bases on our previous studies, CAP has been shown to eliminate a range of different microorganisms on a wide range of surfaces (for example, food, steel, skin) and promote healing of injuries due to the reactive species it contains (for example, oxygen/nitrogen).
The objectives of the study are:
- To assess the potential of CAP to promote dehorning wound healing and identify the best application method.
- To assess the effect of CAP against microorganisms associated with dehorning wounds.
- To evaluate the effect of CAP on dehorned dairy calves’ welfare and productive performance.
This project is a collaboration amongst the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), Hartpury University, and University of Bristol. The PhD student will join a multidisciplinary research group and will receive excellent training and support from their supervisory team. The student will also benefit from a rich collaboration with an industrial partner that will help develop CAP technology further.